All That Glisters is Not Gold

May 12, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, AUSTRALIANIA, Ulalume | 0 Comments |

Archibald Prize, 2018

The Varnished Culture has already dripped its contempt over the Nobel Prize for literature.

Now we can pronounce last rites for the Archibald, which this year is ‘won’ by Yvette Coppersmith, for her self-portrait (after George Lambert).  But George W (1873-1930), whose portrait of a lady is the main image to this note (see above), knew how to paint. This latest prize-winner (see below) is a real shocker, not worthy of an art student, a vacuous, slapdash, iridescent cartoon…

The pallbearers for the Archibald call themselves the “Art Gallery of NSW Board of Trustees”.  They comprise:

  1. Mr David Gonski, AC:  He’s the President of the Board.  You recall that he handed down a couple of very expensive reports that led to the pouring of billions of taxpayers’ dollars into a pit and setting it on fire.  What he did to public education, he’s now doing to Art. 
  2. Dr Mark Nelson: He reckons he’s the Vice President. He knows things about investing, art exhibitions, something called “neuroscience” and he barracks for the Sydney Swans. 
  3. Mr Geoff Ainsworth: He’s got something to do with marine drilling and surveying. He’s described on the Gallery website as “a patron of several arts and cultural organisations.”
  4. Mr Khadim Ali: He’s described as “an internationally acclaimed contemporary artist.”  
  5. Ms Catherine Brenner: She didn’t vote. Not out of any aesthetic objections; she’s the erstwhile head of AMP, a Mutual Provident Society, currently vying to become Australia’s leading commercial pariah.
  6. Hon Mrs Ashley Dawson-Damer: She’s got something to do with making money and she’s been on a stack of Boards.
  7. Professor S Bruce Dowton: He’s a doctor. No doubt a very qualified and good one. 
  8. Ms Samantha Meers: She’s a lawyer and company director.  No doubt a very qualified and experienced one.
  9. Ms Gretel Packer: she’s Kerry Packer’s daughter.
  10. Mr Andrew Roberts: he’s a businessman. No doubt a very qualified and experienced one. 
  11. Mr Ben Quilty: he is described as “a practising artist.”  

Of the two artists on the Board, Ben specialises in lurid smudges involving lashings of impasto, while Ali does well-drawn illustrations of the type that once graced superior childrens’ books.

These ten have wrought the obsequies for the Archibald and Australian portraiture in general.

‘After George Lambert’?  What, like his “The White Glove”…?

Still, if you think Coppersmith is bad, something Frida Kahlo might have whipped-up on an off day, you haven’t lived till you see this year’s “winning” paintings for the Wynne and the Sulman, trapped in a bad-taste Hell, somewhere between the Dreaming and the Market…

George Lambert won the Archibald once.  He won the Wynne, too, with his “Across the Black Soil Plains” –

This is 2018’s ‘winner’ of the Wynne for Australian landscape painting or figure sculpture:

(Yuk) – Untitled by Yukultji Napangati

We can’t even bear to show you the 2018 ‘winner’ of the Sulman. It would be worthy of the Sydney Biennale, or any modern gallery.


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